How to honor your own mom while helping mothers in Papua New Guinea this Mothers Day.
Never in a million years could I imagine needing an emergency c-section or experiencing post partum hemorrhaging or seeing my baby need resuscitation and not being in a facility that can accommodate those types of emergencies. And yet tens of thousands of women around the world give birth in conditions where a clean bed isn’t even available, much less electricity to support life-saving devices.
Last August while I was in the Bamu River region of Papua New Guinea’s Western Province, I witnessed a birth right here on this narrow board in the ankle-deep mud:
You can see fresh lochia pooling in the mud where Bokoro had just birthed her daughter.
This was not an accidental birth – this was a typical set-up for a birth in this region. (There is a wide range of maternal care available. See: Giving Birth along the Bamu.)
I went back to our Medical Ship that evening stunned at what I had just witnessed.
I also left completely in awe of the resilience of strong mothers like Bokoro and her darling baby.
The women of this region are dignified and courageous, beautiful and precious.
There are many contributing factors to maternal and infant mortality in the developing world, and unfortunately there is not one blanket solution to “fix” the problems. We are continually in search of ways to address the issues these families are confronted with.
Introducing the Solar Suitcase
During a research trip to Africa Dr. Laura Stachel discovered that women were often giving birth in clinics by candlelight, kerosene lantern, or even the dim glow of a cell phone because electricity was fickle and inconsistent. In one instance she was observing a c-section when the power cut out. She stood holding a flashlight for them as they continued with the rest of the procedure, and reported that the health workers around her weren’t phased by the incident – after all, it was a regular occurrence.
Upon returning home to the States, Stachel and her engineer husband developed the Solar Suitcase – a suitcase outfitted with solar-powered light and power (and a fetal doppler) that could be given to clinics and aid posts to enable them to care for patients during the darkest of hours. (See more of Stachel’s story in her CNN Heroes feature.)
Bringing the light — the Solar Suitcase — to PNG
In the areas where my family and I serve in Papua New Guinea (PNG) with the YWAM Medical Ship, even clinics and aid posts are few and far between. There is still much development to be done in the region, despite many passionate locals working tirelessly to make a difference. Community Health Workers are crying out for resources and support.
For the past few years the Love A Mama Mothers Day Drive* has been working to get clean birth kits and other maternal health resources into the hands mothers and care providers in rural PNG where the maternal death rate is a mind-blowing 1 in 7. The simple components of a clean birth kit – such as sterile gloves and a clean blade to cut the umbilical cord can help safe guard against infection — one of the leading causes of preventable maternal death. To date we’ve received close to 10,000 birth kits.
[photo of Adriel by Erin Foley]
Now it’s time to expand our efforts to help these dear ones. These women—and their babies—need every advantage we can possibly give them to help combat the odds that are so heavily stacked against them.
It’s time to bring some light into the delivery room.
This year the Love A Mama Community (that’s you guys!) is fundraising to obtain one solar suitcase to trial in the Gulf and Western Provinces of PNG. We need to raise approximately $2000 to pay for the suitcase as well as the international shipping. If it’s something that works well within the areas our ship reaches, then we’ll look at getting more to help outfit as many clinics and aid posts as we can. But for now, we start with one:
One suitcase that can bring light to many.
One simple innovation that can help sustain life for countless women and children.
A Mothers Day gift that keeps giving:
This Mothers Day why don’t you consider giving a gift that will far outlast flowers and chocolates?
Make a $10 donation (or more) on behalf of your mom (grandma/daughter/friend/etc.) and we will send you a personalized PDF for you to forward to her (or fold into a card) for Mothers Day. The letter will describe the donation you made in her name, what it’s for, and the lives that will be impacted through it.
How to donate:
Donate online at YWAM Medical Ships.
In the “additional comments” box include the following information:
For: The Sunshine Project
To: Your mom’s name
From: Your name
Donations will be accepted indefinitely, but to receive a personalized Mothers Day letter, I need to receive your donation by May 8, 2013.
Delivering the Solar Suitcase to PNG
My family and I will be headed to PNG to join the YWAM Medical Ship this July and we sure hope that we’ll have a very special piece of extra luggage to pack along with us. We’re going to bring light on your behalf!
Dear friends, I know that so many of you have captured a heart for maternal health in the developing world by getting involved with Bloggers for Birth Kits (clean birth kits) and Project Baby Bilum (providing ring slings to women in need). I hope you’ll now see the need and opportunity and get behind the Sunshine Project too. The needs of women and children are critical and this is one small way that we can make a big impact for real women and real babies. Let’s spend this Mothers Day not just being consumed with our own entitlements, but by remembering the blessings that we have and remembering those who go without.
p.s. Please share about the Sunshine Project on social media and among your networks. If you’d like, you can also use the Love A Mama logo (or the Sunshine Project logo) in your own writing and promotions – just right click to copy the image below and then link it to www.loveamama.com.
*The Love A Mama Mothers Day Drive was formerly called the Bloggers for Birth Kits Mothers Day Drive.